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Entries in TRAVEL Washington: Seattle (4)

Monday
Sep102012

Labor Day weekend in Seattle: Days 3-4 

Below, please enjoy a chronological photo/review collage from days #3 & 4 of my beautiful - and delicious - Labor Day weekend in Seattle, the "Emerald City."   

...

Sunday, 9/2

I woke up on the earlier-side of the morning to hit the hotel's treadmill.  God knows, especially after the prior day's glutinous shit-show, I could use a good calorie-burning session.  Or three. 

At around 10:30am, Mom, Dad, and I headed to brunch at local favorite, Dahlia LoungeAnd this is where my workout went to crap.  We were lucky to have a fantastic server, who answered all of my dad's random questions (i.e. "How many eggs are hatched/day at Wilcox Farms?"  FYI:  Wilcox Farms is the restaurant's egg purveyor, if you couldn't guess...). 

For my brunch entree, I chose the 'Two Eggs Any Style' (I got mine "poached"), which included a bread of my choice from neighboring Dahlia Bakery (a biscuit, duh!), a breakfast meat (house-made breakfast sausage, thank you very much), and parmesan potatoes.  Everything on my plate was fcuking fantastic.  With the exception of one of the sausage links, I inhaled every last crumb.      

Since the wedding would start promptly at 5pm, we headed back to the hotel to prep, post-brunch.  And, just like the previous evening's rehearsal dinner, the ceremony was held at Camp Korey

Yarmulkes for the menGuests await the beginning of the ceremony on the great lawnMy dad reads a prayerAnd, finally, we serenaded the happy couple over a bountiful dinner + dancing + imbibing + toasting + photo taking + speech delivering + cake eating!

...

Monday, 9/3

Although she's never been, my mom is obsessed with Egypt.  And all of the mystique surrounding the pyramids, King Tut, etc.  So, when she learned that there was a traveling King Tut exhibit in Seattle, she purchased tickets for herself, me, and my dad.

Check out how thrilled I look to be there...

Mom and me, mummy-fied.The young King TutA gorgeous urn found in King Tut's tombFamished from all of the exhibit-ing, we took a lunch break at outdoor pizza cart, Streetzeria.  The small menu caught my eye, as it boasted of fresh and local ingredients.  And what really sealed the deal was the fact that they carried Mexican Coca-Cola which, if you didn't already know, is made with cane sugar.  Not corn syrup. 

The result?  A fabulous personal pizza that was made on the spot.  Piping hot and topped with the highest quality, local ingredients.

Not long after lunch, Dad bolted.  He gets almost as excited about exhibits/museums as I do.  And, frankly, he couldn't handle a second more. 

Mom and I wrapped up at King Tut, then did some window shopping, Space Needle photo-snapping, and candy sampling at See's, before heading back to the hotel.

Since it was Labor Day, there wasn't a whole hell of a lot that was open downtown.  In terms of dining options.  After learning that our first choice was closed, we decided to stay close and dine at Shucker's in our hotel. 

In what sort of resembled the interior of Cheers, Shucker's evoked a casual, yet sophisticated and masculine space:  Mahogany wood, dim lighting, a full wrap-around marble bar, a great selection of local beers on-tap, and a raw bar where bivalves were hand-shucked upon order.

The true test of a good restaurant?  Why, the bread basket, of course!  Rosemary flatbread, sliced French baguette, and handmade Irish soda bread filled the bountiful basket.

Mom, Dad, and I split the Artichoke & Dungeness Crab Gratin, which is just a fancy way of saying, "artichoke and crab dip."  The gratin was accompanied by buttered crostini points for dipping purposes.  Creamy and rich, with ample chunks of crab and artichoke, this was a winner amongst the table.

For my main course, I ordered two local oysters on the half-shell, plus a bowl of clam chowder. 

The oysters were pristine, with a dense, meaty bite and a briny essence from the cold Pacific waters in which they hailed.

The chowder was among the best versions that I've ever had:  Warm, creamy, thick, and chock-full of potatoes and clam nibs. 

...and I also snuck a few bites of Mom's fantastic wedge salad, which was composed of iceberg lettuce quarters, bacon crumbles, and a generous amount of blue cheese dressing.

Our meal at Shucker's was fantastic.  The seafood was local and fresh, plus, the service we received was beyond compare.  We certainly loved our final dinner in Seattle, and will definitely return to Shucker's upon our next visit.  

...

My family and I had a wonderful wedding weekend in Seattle.  Aside from reuniting with dear family, we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the city's unique culture, food/drink, and incredibly gorgeous, natural surroundings.  If you get the opportunity, I highly suggest visiting this lovely destination in August, as the weather and temperatures are at their most ideal.

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Sep062012

Labor Day weekend in Seattle: Day 2

Below, please enjoy a chronological photo/review collage from day #2 (of 4) of my beautiful - and delicious - Labor Day weekend in Seattle, the "Emerald City."   

...

Saturday, 9/1

After a rowdy night, the first thing on my disheveled mind when I awoke on Saturday morning was:  Belle Epicurean.  Conveniently located within the street-level retail shops of my hotel, I make it a point to visit this French bakery every time I'm in Seattle.  Regardless if I'm staying at the Fairmont.  Why?  Because I have yet to find a better pastry on this earth. 

I ran downstairs - in my pajamas - only to realize that the bakery was about 3-minutes away from opening (at 8am).  One of the store's two entrances is located in the interior of the hotel, while the other is public/exterior of the hotel.  Both of the employees on duty saw me standing at the door, fogging up the glass pane, no doubt.  At 8am, instead of opening the door where I was standing, the female employee went all the way to the public entrance.  Unlocked the door.  Moved, then arranged cafe tables and chairs outside.  And propped up the folding sidewalk chalkboard with the day's specials.  Finally, the beotch came over to where I was waiting and opened the door.  How crappy is that?

It was hard not to let the nasty service I received spoil the bakery's delicious offerings.  Especially after the said wicked witch got my coffee order wrong.  It took everything in me not to punch her in the face.  Seriously.

Blackberry briocheLemon briocheAt around noon, I met my cousin, Bill, for a dim sum lunch in the International District.  Jade Garden was packed with hungry guests eagerly waiting for their party's name to be called for a table.  After about 20-minutes, Bill and I were seated at a comfy booth in Jade Garden's non descript, hectic dining room.  Seconds later, we were served tea and offered a variety of freshly-cooked dishes from the dim sum cart.  I was in hog heaven.

Because this meal was so incredibly delicious, and I could not stop raving about it, my dad and I tried convincing my mom to have dinner there on Monday night.  i.e. Second visit for me, first for them.  She wouldn't budge (she hates Chinese food).

Seattle's International DistrictSteamed shrimp & Chinese parsley dumplingsHouse special vermicelliPork rice cakeShrimp roll Pork soup dumplingsAfter lunch, Mom and I walked around downtown - hit the flagship Nordstrom department store - then grabbed a refreshing margarita at Purple Cafe, a cute wine/tapas joint across the street from our hotel.

The wedding festivities for the evening took us to Carnation, a town 45-minutes outside of Seattle, for the rehearsal dinner at Camp Korey.  While the camp "...serves children with serious and life-altering medical conditions and their families at no cost.  We provide year-round recreation programs specially designed to support the medical needs of campers while letting them just be kids and have fun," it can also be rented for special events, such as weddings.

The heartfelt mission of Camp Korey makes its breathtaking grounds all the more beautiful...

The festivities began with outdoor activities (think badminton and Frisbee), followed by a BBQ dinner that was catered by famed Seattle restaurateur, Tom Douglas.

After another fantastic - and filling - day, I hit the sheets early.  

Stay tuned for day #3 of my trip to Seattle...!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Thursday
Sep062012

Labor Day weekend in Seattle: Day 1

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!  Can you even believe that summer is "officially" over?  What the hell, right?  Where did the past three months go?  All I know is this:  Thank god the Fall in NYC is so awesome - otherwise I'd be beyond depressed about the fact that it's already September...

Wednesday was my first day back in the big city after having spent the long weekend in Seattle for my cousin's wedding.  While I'm too scared to weigh myself for *at least* a few more days, I will say that I ate - and drank - like a royal.  Below, please enjoy a chronological photo/review collage from day #1 (of 4) of my beautiful - and delicious - weekend in the "Emerald City."   

...

Friday, 8/31

Before my early morning flight out of Newark, I made sure to grab something to eat (...since none of these cheap ass airlines serve free food anymore).  My favorite go-to spot, at least in terminal C, is the Garden State Diner.  Everything is made-to-order.  From scratch.  Plus, the employees are always super friendly and accommodating.  Oh, and for the record, I ordered an egg burrito. 

I arrived in Seattle at about 10am local time, and was at my hotel by 11.  After checking in, my parents and I walked to Pike Place Market, where we put on our proverbial 'tourist hats' and enjoyed the sights, sounds, eats, and drinks.

Walking towards market. Quite the view, eh?

Fresh, *live* oystersGorgeous, local produceDid you know that Beecher's is a Seattle original? We loved the fresh cheese curds.After spotting a ferris wheel across the street, it was all my dad could talk about.  Mom and I agreed to accompany him on the ride, so long as we could grab a small bite + a beverage afterwards.  On our walk to the 'wheel, we passed Pike Place Bakery, home to some of the most delicious donuts that I've ever put in my mouth.  Mom and I split an apple fritter that was still warm from the deep fryer (Sadly, I was too busy inhaling the fritter to snap a photo.  Ugh)!

A view from the top of the ferris wheelDad, Mom, and I on the ferris wheelAfter the ride, we walked about 100 feet and grabbed an outdoor table at The Fisherman's.  It was close, the view was excellent, our glasses of white wine were cold, and my Dungeness crab cocktail + local oyster was fresh.

Dungeness crab cocktailLocal oysterWhen we returned to the hotel, Jessica, one of my BFF's and current Seattle-ite, stopped by for a quick visit, as my family and I had to get ready for the evening's wedding festivities.   

Family and friends gathered aboard a sunset Shabbat dinner cruise to celebrate the couple.  

Wahoo! The bar tender made me a margarita!Upon returning to land, I joined my friend, Dana, for a cocktail at the W Hotel's TRACE Bar.  Finally, after a full day + being awake for nearly 24-hours, I called it a night.

Stay tuned for day #2 of my trip to Seattle...!

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Tuesday
Jun122012

48-hours in Seattle: BlogHer Food 2012

This past weekend, I flew to Seattle to attend BlogHer Food 2012, a conference dedicated to bringing food bloggers together to learn, share, inspire, and of course, to EAT!  For two days, I attended various seminars about the ins and outs of food blogging.  Topics that were covered included:  Monetization, photography, social media, social justice, ethics, innovation, and rights. 

...But don't think that it was all work and no play!  I got to feast on a plethora of delicious eats and drinks - met amazing authors and fellow bloggers - and snuck over to Pike Place Market for some priceless photo opportunities and lunch.

~

On Thursday evening, I caught a Seattle-bound flight that arrived at 9:45pm PST. 

*In an effort to save some money, I opted against taking an expensive taxi from the airport to my downtown hotel so, instead, I reserved a $19 seat on the SHUTTLE EXPRESS

*Since I had booked my trip on the later end, the BlogHer room block at the Fairmont Olympic (the hotel where the conference took place) was sold out.  Luckily, I found a great deal at the CROWNE PLAZA, located merely a block away (from the Fairmont Olympic).  

Gorgeous view from my 30th-floor room at the Crowne Plaza

Friday, June 8th:  Day 1, BlogHer Food 2012

Having been to Seattle - and stayed at the Fairmont Olympic - before, I made sure to leave myself enough time (pre-conference) to grab a coffee and pastry at my favorite patisserie outside of France:  BELLE EPICUREAN, located store-front at the Fairmont Olympic.  

What makes this patisserie so special?  Well, for one, they have the best coffee and espresso beverages and, more importantly, their pastries are second only to those in France.  Seriously. 

Perhaps it's also the fact that BELLE EPICUREAN owner, Carolyn Ferguson, pursued what many, including myself, only dream of:  Moving to Paris - studying French cuisine and Patisserie at famed Le Cordon Bleu - and falling in love.  Sigh...

The beautiful Fairmont Olympic Hotel My beloved Belle EpicureanThe conference began promptly at 8am, with registration, a sponsored breakfast, and a "Pioneer Presentation" that brought me to tears by "White on Rice Couple," Diane Cu and Todd Porter.

Goodie bag filled with products and coupons!Gorgeous breakfast that surpassed my wildest dreams! The honey used to sweeten the yogurt is cultivated from the bees on Fairmont's roof!After a fabulous breakfast and a morning session, a "networking lunch" commenced at noon.

GazpachoDeconstructed potato salad: Potato medallions, pancetta, boiled egg, blue cheese ball, cornichon, pearl onion, aioli tubeTomato terrine with "balsamic caviar" (Vegetarian)Handmade cookies and chocolate trufflesMy lunch plateFollowing three afternoon sessions, it was time to eat again!  And drink.  A "welcome reception" began at 6pm, where we were encouraged to meet the conference's sponsors.

Did you know that SHUTTERFLY allows you to personalize iPhone covers? I love this!!Smoked salmon with lemon-aioli tubesDole's Pineapple/Arugula Mojitos!Since two of my favorite fellows from high school live in Seattle, we made plans to meet up after the "welcome reception."  Frank and Herman met me downtown, where we enjoyed a couple of drinks and then grabbed, what else, some kick ass Mexican food (...that put most places in NYC to shame) at Mama's Mexican Kitchen

I still can't believe that the three of us had not seen one another in (gasp) 14 years!  But our reunion felt as though "it was only yesterday."  Isn't that the measure of a genuine, good friendship?  I'd like to think so. 

~

Saturday, June 9th:  Day 2, BlogHer Food 2012

This morning's first session - breakfast - began at 9am (instead of 8am).  I definitely needed that extra hour of sleep!  As I had done the day prior, I grabbed a latte and a gorgeous 'Lemon Brioche Bun with Sweet Citrus Confit' from my beloved BELLE EPICUREAN.  After all, this would be the last chance I would have to savor one of their pastries, since my flight the next morning would depart hours prior to their opening. 

After inhaling 'breakfast round 1,' I loaded up a plateful of free sweet and savory items for 'breakfast round 2' (...at the conference). 

Following two sessions, a group of us headed to Pike Place Market for fabulous photo opportunities and lunch.

Look at this produce! What the heck are 'garlic spears?'

Fresh crab cocktail! Far above: A lovely view of the water and a cruise ship. Just above: A tie-died adult onesie! Blech!!!For lunch, three of us headed over to Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar, located in the back of a shopping plaza.  Having previously dined here in 2007, I knew that we'd score a solid, seafood-centric meal.

I wolfed down an outstanding bowl of clam chowder, made with local clams.Local oysters & chips (fried oysters and French fries)Following lunch and our last session of the conference, author, Kim Sunee, was interviewed for the 'closing keynote.'  I found her life story - abandoned in South Korea at the age of three, before being adopted by American parents - absolutely fascinating and riveting.  I was lucky enough to purchase the last copy of her memoir (at the conference), "Trail of Crumbs," following her interview...and score an autograph! 

So that she would spell my name correctly, I handed her my business card.  She was intrigued by the "Belle" in my website, and I explained to her that, despite the fact that I live in NYC, I am a Southerner at heart.  "We have something in common," she said with a genuine smile.  "I was raised in New Orleans."

I've already started to read Ms. Sunee's memoir and, to be honest, I cannot put it down.  I am completely mesmerized, inspired, and curious, and I'm only on page 41!  This is the kind of read that I will be sad to finish - I just know it.

It reads, "To Lindsay - From one Southern Belle to another." From 6:30-9:30pm, there was an offsite 'closing reception' at Sodo Park, located about 10-minutes from the Fairmont Olympic.  And, while I only stayed for about 30-minutes (...because I was exhausted), the venue was fantastic and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves!

Bloggers lining up to gain entry to the closing reception at Sodo Park

 

I'm glad that I attended BlogHer Food 2012Although I met some amazing people - learned new tips, tricks, and insight - the most priceless tidbit of information that I took away from this conference is:  All of our stories and voices are unique; we need to believe in our writing and, even more so, ourselves. 

"Authenticity is beautiful."

~~~

Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle